This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) that would have provided $1 million to the Food and Drug Administration to combat outbreaks of food-borne illness linked to E. coli. (E. coli is a bacterium found in the fecal matter of farm animals. Certain strains of E. coli have been linked to serious and even deadly cases of food poisoning.) This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Agriculture Department programs.
DeLauro urged support for her amendment: “We know that food-borne illnesses are always a major public health threat. They account for roughly 48 million illnesses, 100,000 hospitalizations, and over 3,000 deaths in our country each year. Put another way, one in every six Americans becomes sick from the very foods they eat each year. Specific to E. coli, well over 200,000 sicknesses every year are because of this one type of food-borne bacterial sickness, and the threat of a more serious outbreak is also very real. Right now in Europe we are witnessing just such a lethal outbreak. In Germany, thousands have been affected, hundreds have become sick, and 37 have died from an E. coli outbreak. Just this morning, a 2-year-old German boy perished from kidney failure as a result of E. coli poisoning, which authorities think began with raw bean sprouts in northern Germany. This sort of fatal outbreak could all too easily happen here. In many ways, we have been extraordinarily lucky that it has not happened more often. In recent years, all types of food have become contaminated and forced into recall from Froot Loops to SpaghettiOs and salami to eggs. We have to be continually vigilant on the food safety front to keep families safe.”
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) opposed DeLauro’s amendment: “We hear quite often that 48 million people have suffered from food-borne illnesses--a very high number…But if you look at 311 million Americans eating three meals a day, that would be 933 million meals eaten daily or 340 billion eaten each year. If you do the math on this, the food safety rate is 99.9 percent safe. Why is that relevant? Because something's working without the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and without the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] and without the nanny state saying we're in charge of everything….food processing companies are very concerned about food safety and their customers' safety, because the way you keep your customers coming back to buy more is to keep them happy, and that means to keep them safe. And it would be hard for me to believe that some of the leading companies in America, such as McDonald's or Burger King or Coca-Cola, have anything on their minds except for food safety.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 193-226. Voting “yea” were 181 Democrats and 12 Republicans. 224 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have provided $1 million to the Food and Drug Administration to combat outbreaks of food-borne illness linked to E. coli.